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Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (second right), listens as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie (right) provides a dengue fever update during a media briefing at the Ministry’s office in New Kingston. Also listening (from left) are Director of the Ministry’s Health Promotion and Protection Branch, Dr. Simone Spence, and Permanent Secretary, Dunstan Bryan.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, is encouraging public support for the Ministry’s vector control programme, aimed at containing and reducing dengue fever.

She notes that while the Ministry heightens interventions such as fogging, clean-up activities and citizen sensitisation to reduce the prevalence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the disease, public participation is equally critical in curtailing breeding of the vector.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie, who emphasised that the disease is “preventable”, argued that “if we can rid our vicinities of all of the breeding sites, then we can decrease the likelihood of [contracting] dengue”.

She was speaking at a recent press briefing at the Ministry’s office in New Kingston.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie noted that the mosquito, which has a life span averaging two to four-weeks, thrives in damp or wet conditions.

These, she points out, include areas where water accumulates and containers in which the amenity is stored but not properly monitored.

The CMO said against the background that the mosquito’s prevalence heightens during periods of significant rainfall, commensurately resulting in the onset of diseases such as dengue, it is incumbent on householders in particular to take the necessary safeguards to reduce the risk of exposure to these vectors.

Against this background, the Ministry urges persons to take the following precautionary measures:
• Cover stored water
• Regularly empty and clean containers in which water has accumulated or is being stored• Punch holes in containers being discarded
• Properly discard refuse that has accumulated
• Keep grass and shrubbery, which can provide havens for mosquitoes, low
• Protect yourselves by wearing long sleeves, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to be active, and
• Use mosquito netting and insect repellents frequently as directed on the containers.

Up to January 3, some 830 dengue cases were classified as suspected, presumed or confirmed. Twenty-three of these have been confirmed.